April 8th Waterbird Count Summary

Weather –

A beautiful calm sunrise was well deserved this morning after a week of fairly harsh conditions. Light winds out of the north east with a temperature of -5C. By the afternoon the winds shifted to the north west and increased to 20-28kph. Visibility was good all day.

Waterbird Notes –

RBME again led todays flight with approximately 270 birds passing in front of McGulpin Point from west to east. One lone LTDU was spotted leading a string of RBME, but the bird was exceptionally close. 2 MALL were seen flying high, the males curved central uppertail coverts visible.

Non- waterbird Notes –

The resident Bald Eagle put on quite a show this morning. The resident adult McGulpin Point bird managed to catch some species of duck, but on the return was attacked by the S3 bird I have noted before. The S3 bird latched onto the duck and the two birds began to fall towards the ice wall in front of several festival attendees. I am hoping someone got an excellent photo considering how much tele photo firepower was on site! It was fun to be cheering the show with other bird enthusiasts.

Wildlife-

None

Freighters-

Pere Marquette westbound at 11:15.

Visitors –

Josh Haas, Lynn Fraze and Joseph Youngman were down this morning. I didn’t realize Joseph Youngman authored the research article I have been quoting lately – Autumn waterbird migration over Lake Superior: Numbers, species and timing. I am going to miss the company of the festival presenters and I hope our migratory corridors cross again. Several festival attendees were down throughout the day and all enjoyed the mornings eagle show.

Towards the end of the day when all of the excitement had slowed down I was visited by Joseph Haas, District Supervisor Department of Environmental Quality – Water Resources Division for the State of Michigan. He asked me if I had seen anything regarding a spill of approximately 600 gallons of dielectric fluid composed primarily of alkyl derivatives of benzene which occurred just to the west of me this past Sunday April 1st. I asked him what I should be on the look out for. He stated that I should be observant of any flightless or dead waterbirds in the straits. I mentioned to him I have seen yellow grayish tinged rafts of ice floating from the west to the east during the last two days of raptor fest. I also related to him that on Thursday, April 5th at approximately 9:45AM I noticed about 50 RBME right off McGulpin Point performing what I would consider to be excessive preening. The preening seemed to last over an hour and I have yet to observe this behavior by any waterbird during the count. Preening is something I have seen waterbirds do, but not an entire raft of birds and not for that long. He then asked me that if I see anything to let him know, which I asserted that I had just let him know. This information will be relayed again by email to him and to Captain Marko Broz of the US Coast Guard.

Total observer hours – 7.5

Next days forecast –

Isolated snow showers after 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 35. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Todays tally is posted on eBird here.